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Environmental Groups Quit Mass. Advisory Panel

This article is more than 10 years old.

Members of four environmental groups have resigned from a state advisory panel, after the Patrick administration changed a long-held policy on how it calculates how much water can be withdrawn from state river basins.

Members of the Conservation Law Foundation, the Charles River Watershed Association, the Ipswich River Watershed Association and Clean Water Action, say they stepped down in protest.

The move comes after Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs last week announced it would change how it evaluates so-called safe yield, or the amount of water that can be withdrawn without harming plants and wildlife.

State officials say their new methodology takes more factors into account when determining safe yield, such as water allocation rights and economic factors.

But members of the environmental groups disagree with the approach.

Bob Zimmerman, executive director of the Charles River Watershed Association, said the new criteria mean municipalities and others with water rights to the Charles may now take four times the amount of water from the Charles than was previously allowed.

"All the work we've done to create conservation-based permits and to conserve water in the state and to turn this resource into one that meets both human demand and natural-resource need is basically out the window," he said.

Patrick administration officials say they hope the groups come back to the table.

This program aired on October 14, 2009. The audio for this program is not available.

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